Approach


Jamie Steiner House wide_optJAMIE YORK
, author and Waldorf math educator, created the Making Math Meaningful® series as a developmentally based math curriculum that STRENGTHENS BASIC SKILLS, FOSTERS MATHEMATICAL THINKING and SPARKS ENTHUSIASM for learning (leading to greater creativity and imaginative forces).

Math is NOT a collection of blind procedures to solve meaningless problems. It is often the least understood and least penetrated aspect of the Waldorf curriculum.

Jamie York believes that the onus is on the teacher to teach math in the belief that it is interesting, in and of itself. The Making Math Meaningful® curriculum focuses on what is essential to develop mathematical capacity.

There are no fancy graphics and contrived ways of making math fun in his books. His philosophy is that a love of learning comes through the teacher, and so he is committed to supporting teachers to develop their teaching skills and to create a love of math in their students.

Teachers are often tormented by the “list” of materials they are told they need to get through in the teaching of math. A standard mainstream textbook for 7th grade is 1450 pages long. That’s insane! Jamie has boiled that list down in order to focus on essentials. And his students are still able to tackle the math they encounter beyond their grade school careers. Jamie York believes in depth over superficiality. His own students develop a life-long love of math and approach the subject with a depth that others around them often lack.

This page contains basic information on Jamie’s approach to Waldorf math and recommendations on teaching materials.  It also contains PDF links of the Tables of Contents and other Sample Pages from books in the Making Math Meaningful® series.

In summary, Jamie York’s Meaningful Math:

  • is developmentally appropriate
  • challenges students (the material is interesting)
  • promotes deep and creative thinking (avoids blind procedures to solve meaningless problems)
  • is inclusive of historical context

And finally, some food for thought: “NOBODY SAID IT WAS EASY”

We learn math best when we get confused and then work through that confusion. And in the process we (hopefully) ask good questions, and (necessarily) made lots of mistakes. We can struggle and get frustrated. Never get discouraged; get determined! We learn much about life by learning math. I could make math easy, but then we would miss out on the most important part of the process. Math is life!

 

WALDORF MATH CURRICULUM

Click on the link to read Jamie York’s thoughts on What Makes For Waldorf Math?.  Also see our Videos page to view Jamie York’s lecture on this subject.

Click here for an overview of Jamie York’s WALDORF MATH Curriculum Overview for Grades 1-12

BOOK PACKAGE RECOMMENDATIONS for Public, Private and Home School Math Teachers.

LOWER SCHOOL

MIDDLE SCHOOL

  • Making Math Meaningful: A Source Book for Teaching Middle School Math (formerly A Middle School Curriculum) – is a foundational book accompanying all the 6-8th Grade Workbooks. Curriculumtoc.pdf – Twenty 8.5″ x 11″ pages – 171KB. Please note that this book is now published by Jamie York Press.
  • Making Math Meaningful workbooks – Student Workbooks and Teachers’ Editions Grades 6-8

ABOUT USING THE WORKBOOKS

I feel that most textbooks (in the USA anyway) give too much detail. Textbooks can spoonfeed teachers, so that teachers can spoonfeed students.  That’s partly why I have written workbooks instead of textbooks.  The most important thing is not for the students simply to get the problems correct (by using blind procedures), but it is the process the students go through during the learning process. This process needs to be guided by the teacher; it is the art of teaching.

I have heard parents say that the textbook should enable their child to be absent and still do the work.They don’t want their child to miss anything.  Sorry, when you are absent, you miss something! Hopefully the student misses something quite valuable and exciting, otherwise why did the other students bother coming to school?

The Making Math Meaningful® workbooks (especially from 8th grade and up) are specifically designed to lead the students (with the teacher’s careful guidance) along a path of discovery.  The most important thing is developing mathematical thinking.

The Algebra Hammer: Using algebra to avoid mathematical thinking: Take an example from the Percents and Growth unit of my 8th grade workbook: “510 is 40% less than what number?”  Many textbooks have students translate this problem into an algebra problem. This is what I call using the “algebra hammer”. Of course, algebra is an important and powerful tool.  But sometimes it gets used to make things easier; it avoids mathematical thinking.  Instead, I guide the students along a thinking process, so they realize the problem is the same as asking: “510 is 60% of what number?”  This involves mathematical thinking.

Regarding the more advanced students…starting in grade 8 (there are different ways that I challenge my students in grades 7 and below), my most advanced students do work ahead independently using my workbooks. The workbooks don’t give them all of the answers.  They have to occasionally ask me a question. It works very well.

Any teacher who uses the Making Math Meaningful® workbooks should spend a great deal of time working through the progression.  But I find that it is time well spent.

6th Grade Student’s Workbook Sample Pages

7th Grade Student’s Workbook Sample Pages

8th Grade Student’s Workbook Sample Pages

  • Making Math Meaningful: Fun with Puzzles, Games, and More with puzzles for Grades 4-12 – offering the teacher “something different” to enhance their curriculum.6th Grade.  When Introducing Geometry: String, Straightedge, and Shadow: The Story of Geometry  is a classic reader by Julia E. Diggins (available through Jamie York Press soon!) on the history of elementary geometry; how the ancients, more than two thousand years ago, discovered the basic principles and constructions of basic geometry, using the string, the straightedge, and the shadow. Charmingly illustrated by Corydon Bell.

 

HIGH SCHOOL

Check the High School Store page for information.

Click here for Jamie York’s thoughts on What makes Waldorf Math Curriculum in High School?

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